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U.S. opens P.A. training center

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top U.S. official inaugurated a training center for Palestinian security personnel built with U.S. funds.

David Johnson, the assistant secretary of state for law enforcement, on Tuesday joined Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in dedicating the compound in Jericho.

The center was built with $10.1 million of State Department assistance," a State Department statement said, adding that it was the first of several U.S.-funded building projects for the P.A. security forces.

"The center, completed by Palestinian contractors over the course of the past 16 months, has a training capacity of 700 officers and enlisted men, including accommodations and dining facilities, waste water treatment, parade grounds, classrooms and an obstacle course," the statement said.

A multinational training regimen for the security forces led by U.S. Gen. Keith Dayton will have graduated about 1,700 troops by the summer. Most of the training has been in Jordan. Bringing the operation inside the West Bank will streamline the process, officials said.

The forces are credited with helping to keep the West Bank quiet during Israel’s recent war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Obama administration has pledged to continue the program launched by President Bush.

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